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Everything posted by Language-Student

  1. Perhaps it's just the complexity of the characters which makes learning Chinese appear very difficult to Westerners. The grammar, however, is very easy to pick up & often makes much more sense than the English Language arrangements. In fact, westerners are at an advantage over even younger Chinese-born students as far as grammar goes, or so I was taught! The pictorial-based characters make much more sense, when you think about it than many of the words in English, which more & more seems to me like a hotch-potch of borrowed words & expressions, often misspelt & mis-used from a history of conquered cultures. The problem with the Chinese characters now is that they don't really resemble anything like they used to, thanks to a series of actions over time by the central government. The "logic" of the ordering of the English grammar often makes little sense compared to the simplistic ordering of Chinese sentences. I feel that more should be done in the West to further the appreciation of the Chinese Language ahead of learning it. The event that will singularly hasten the uptake in learning the Chinese Language in the West is World War Three, which the Chinese & the Russians will win decisively & in short order. This won't be forced upon the West, but Westerners in masses will flock to tertiary institutions when the outcome of the war becomes apparent & the Chinese & Russian agenda of peaceful collaborative infrastructure building becomes widely supported ahead of a historically apparent Anglo-American agenda of constant war whilst killing their own people. What drives people to learning a particular language over another in droves is economic interest. Currently, more people learn English because it's in their economic interests to do so. In future, the tables will turn because the Money Power will support China way ahead of the English-speaking world and those who only know "English System" Euro-languages will be at a decided economic disadvantage over those who have even a basic understanding of Mandarin &/or Cantonese.
  2. My German learnt in my childhood is lousy... it's so bad that I'm not listing it on my profile as a studied language. And this is more than a little embarrassing seeing three quarters of my ancestry is German! So I ran a google translation for English and was surprised it came up with a fairly accurate rendition. Well Done :-) Regarding the fireworks that "must be had", isn't there an alternative to chemical explosions that don't cause fires? And mess? I thought there were some suggestions online sometime ago, but did they ever go down as well as the real thing? Or get developed?
  3. A Chinese Ghost Story from 1987 is up on YouTube. It's funny, romantic too, with a fair bit of medieval fighting and will keep you quite involved. It's so very riveting! The acting was exceptional for the time and that movie made a few of them very popular thereafter. If you know some things about Taoism and Buddhism and are interested in reincarnation, then this is a must-see. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p336xDjgJzg
  4. Off The Great Wall! I follow this one everywhere. They used to be much bigger long ago, but not so much now - I mean, their posting of new topics has declined. These guys are hilarious & also get right to the point. I don't think anyone would be disappointed following this. As there are so many people in China, they have to organize themselves well. Also, people there seem to crave titles and prefer those beneath their status to show respect. It looks very much over-done, especially as the title varies depending on their age relative to yours. Still, tradition is tradition and it should be preserved.
  5. In about five years from now, Chinese will be the world's most spoken language. Prepare yourselves now and you can be the teachers or tutors of tomorrow. I know this for absolute certain. You have only to look at current events to understand why. I will address this in greater detail later, if asked. I feel the need to address the second sentence regarding language learning participation rates both inside and outside of China. To have a complete understanding of the assertion that "Chinese people don't even bother learning English", I will need to know what part of China the poster comes from. I find it difficult to believe that on average throughout all of China, people don't bother learning English. It's compulsory throughout school as well as integral in every part of every tertiary course in the country. Now, what I've since discovered is that it is possible to graduate from universities without passing English, but you lose the title, though a growing number of employers don't care & just pay you less because you have the skills needed. Perhaps this is why there are so many under-qualified Chinese people for the jobs on offer? Perhaps this is also why the salary on offer for many jobs is so high for native English speakers? I don't see that in my country many more are learning Chinese, but I will need to see if throughout the West, there are more of us actually gaining qualifications in Chinese Languages now, compared to previous years. My class sizes are so very tiny and the majority of students are of Asian descent.
  6. I've since given this topic a little more thought and I'd like to share a couple of links / artists this time. Just like my Western music tastes, I tend to like artists who have a good personal story, write the songs they sing and have something worthwhile to sing about. I've looked at the above two posted artists and they are both very good, but one is from Taiwan, the other from Hong Kong. Modern day mainland China, as far as I can tell, doesn't have anyone on the popular music scene that really stands out or is worth following, for one reason or another. It seems to be much easier today in China to become popular on the music scene without really telling a worthwhile story, or when your personal life is still such a mess. There did used to be a great many really great mainland Chinese singer songwriters, but much like in the west, all the good ones died young. Today, I'd like to present to you, as I have learned it, a brief look at the very brief life of a young man from China's Cantonese States with a big heart who became famous for his humble attitude while becoming famous (I double-dare anyone try this out today!). He looked after a lot of people in the process. His songs were okay for the time, but became dark and depressing. He then turned gay, which none could understand, but most likely due to his leading female role in a popular movie, and he suicided when there seemed to no way out of his situation. One song I've found below, but there are other better ones that I cannot find on Youtube or a quick scan of Youku (the Chinese Youtube equivalent): Another very good artist, very good to listen to, is the upper middle-class Cantonese star, Danny Chan who became very, very famous in China as well as in Japan (very difficult for most!), for his style. He is so child-like and pure, never really understanding why the world is the way it is, always concentrating on his music, which he developed from a very young age. His story is really quite unbelievable! If you thought it was only the very best Western singer song writers of long ago that were deliberately killed off by, and I'll try to choose my words carefully here, the Cabal, then I'm here to say that this wasn't unique to the west, but was just as prevalent in China! It was very difficult growing up in the era of the Cultural Revolution. Anyway, for no apparent reason, early in his professional career, Danny and his whole family were attacked almost on a daily basis in the media. He had no idea why & turned to a combination of drinking and sleeping pills. One day he overdosed on the pills and was admitted to hospital where he remained for one and a half years, struggling to recover before, many believe, he was murdered. So here is "Having You", by Danny Chan:
  7. I think the difficulty must be "application" for me. Inside of the classroom, everything is fine, but where do I use it outside of the classroom, except online? I was recommended to study Japanese on the basis that all the top scientific literature of the future will be in Japanese, so if you want to get ahead in your electronic engineering, you will need to study Japanese! Well, that was back in the early 1990's when Japan was quickly emerging as a techno-hub in electronic engineering design. So after four years of intensive Japanese, I managed to finally get a job at a time when we were going through "the recession we had to have". Unfortunately, the only language I needed to have studied in order to get ahead in my Automotive Electronics career, was German! Lesson number one: never listen to high school careers counselors and always go with your gut reaction!
  8. Aramaic, I read somewhere, is very easy for a Native English speaker to learn quickly and would have been very useful in studying biblical history. However, as this forum sub-section is dedicated unto the study of all aspects of Chinese Language and culture, I'm obliged to reveal the best single method for a novice, or anyone really, to learn Chinese. Now, the above contributions are all well and good, as is attending a popular class in a well-known University, but the one thing I can advise, from my own experience, that makes learning this language fun, inexpensive and easy is to marry a cute, happy Chinese girl with a wonderful personality!
  9. I was taught the Kanji characters were standardized to 1840, so I'm not sure where the rest of those extra ones come from that I need to learn to get up to 2000 characters! I remember the whole lot being drawn up by successive Japanese Exchange Students in proper calligraphy and being pasted on sheets of paper reaching several times right around the classroom. I'm not sure how many I can recall at this moment, so perhaps I should test myself? I guess I'm still waiting for the need to arise! I'm surprised by the statement that says: To be fluent in writing or speech? I don't believe it applies to either! Perhaps "eloquent" could replace "fluent"? Of course, knowing all of your Kanji characters doesn't guarantee you know how to use them correctly! In class, I was called "walking dictionary" and "walking encyclopedia", but word quantity never guarantees quality!
  10. I have to suggest another completely different method now. This method is really quite ingenious and can get you learning more Chinese characters and words and even expressions faster than anything. It's also very devious and you need to prepare yourself for some of the possible side-effects. The method itself is quite simple to implement. It involves changing the language settings on your computer over to Mandarin and let the fun begin! This can also be a good time to learn how to swear properly in Chinese. Yet another level of complexity is added when someone else does this for you in such a way that you cannot figure out how to switch it back!
  11. All the formal classes and text books teach you words and expressions, etc grouped into themes. The themes run according to their level. The idea is to master everything to do with one theme: characters, words, sentences and expressions, grammar, culture, history, etc and then do exercises, tests and role plays to cover both the written and spoken aspects, before moving on to the next. This way, you are more prepared for situations in real life. Otherwise, what have you really learnt by writing the "top 500 characters"? At least this way, if you have to leave classes at some stage, you still have something useful
  12. Well, you should be grateful that you have a choice! Here, I can only find tertiary institutions that will teach the simplified version. Our first year teacher did take the time (and with the help of a forest full of separate hand-outs), to show how each simplified character developed from the "original", depending upon how far back it was traced... to a point! My Cantonese wife, perhaps along with many of her countrymen, privately dare to disagree with the simplifications imposed upon the people by the Government in Beijing. The latest round of dramatic changes, I believe, was enforced in the 1950's, possibly for the purpose of national unity. I'm very much left to my own devices as to how I can remember the meaning and construction of each character. In most cases, it's a war of attrition... the more I use them, the more I should remember them.
  13. I ran this past my wife who knows many languages and comes straight from China's south. None of these are just one character in Mandarin, neither the first example, nor the second! It can be easily seen that one character has a single syllable pronunciation in English. The first one is part of a word; by itself it is pretty much meaningless. The second is never one character. It might be pronounced in a single syllable, but it is really one character repeated four times, as in 高高高,just meaning very, very tall or high. My Mandarin character text book, at the end of chapter 9, highlights the single un-repeated character with the highest number of strokes with a meaning in itself, which is nang (fourth pronunciation stroke) 齉, which means "snuffling" or "speaking with a snuffle". It takes 36 strokes to write. It is relatively common knowledge, but is rarely used. Of the 6600 Chinese characters in common use today, it is the nine-stroke characters which see the highest percentage of use today... that's 785 nine-stroke characters! Methinks we need to go for quantity of characters over impressive stroke numbers per character!
  14. I've been to Shanghai for a couple of weeks, then Guangzhou for two more weeks. If you're a tall westerner "snowflake" or "ghost", you can go to any big supermarket where you can expect to be approached by beautiful young ladies who will chase you down in order to practice their English Language skills! One of the first questions they will ask you is where you are from. If you answer "I'm from England" or "I'm a New Yorker", they will be very keen to chat with you for as long as they have time to spare. If you tell them what I did, they will lose interest very quickly! Saying to them, "G'day Luv, I'm from Down Under", will make them disappear back into the crowd so fast you will be left wondering what just happened! If you start talking to street vendors, be prepared to part with a good deal of your money very quickly. They sell cheap to locals, but bargain harder with Westerners! Taking classes is much more cost-efficient, but you can learn a lot of things from street vendors which you would never learn in classes!
  15. The easiest one I can remember was sung at the Beijing Olympic Games! I don't have a link; I learnt it from handouts given in class. I must admit I haven't looked into Chinese songs at all! My favorite would have to be the Butterfly Love Song, given to me on a very old audio cassette tape many, many years ago by the original owner of a popular Vegan Chinese Takeaway here. I also like the one on the other side of this same tape, but can no longer read the title in English!
  16. I know where you're coming from! I've studied up to somewhere in my second year of Mandarin Chinese. I thought I was going to master this one in no time given my four years of Japanese studied previously. I've never even been to Japan, but went to China twice before I started learning the language (two weeks in Shanghai, then two weeks in Guangzhou). One can survive in China without knowing the language, but you are much better off knowing the language and understanding the culture. As the previous poster shows, it's not that difficult to learn the tones with a good teacher and good feedback. And it helps if your wife is Chinese . My wife is Cantonese and they have maybe nine different tones to master! What is really intimidating, isn't the tones, nor the language, nor even the teacher... it's the rest of the class who all started off the same day as me, but had enormous previous experience! Japanese is easy to learn from scratch. Both Japanese and Chinese are so much fun to learn. The key is finding a good "class plus teacher" combination and get into study groups if possible. Don't feel self-conscious, just surround yourself with a variety of people at different learning stages to yourself, but make sure most of them are at about the same level and just have fun. :-)
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